Monday, June 29, 2009
An Exhibit on Living with Lymphedema.
Showing at Artomatic until July 5th 2009. www.artomatic.org
I just thought I had fat legs.
All my life, the same questions and exclamations: “Your calf is as big as my thigh!”
All the women in my family were built the same, so I thought it was genetic, and it was: hereditary Primary Lymphedema.
After diagnosis last November it was difficult to find help:
the few doctors who knew what it was had little to no idea where and what the treatments were.
Adventist Rehabilitation at Shady Grove Hospital has a wonderful Lymphedema treatment center complete with stalwart Wellness Warriors.
They proceeded to teach me the compression and massage techniques that will keep my legs from swelling up every day. At its worst my calves would swell 2 inches during the day, then shrink back up at night. The discomfort was extreme and quite debilitating.
Intense treatment stage was just that, and composed of hardcore, brilliant bandaging techniques designed to drain lymph fluid manually. The small images you see are of those bandaging stages, and the resulting challenge of trying to find something to wear over their girth. Every day I would go in for re-bandaging and training.
I lost several centimeters off my legs during these two weeks.
The compression stockings I must wear every day are very tight and create limitations for my fashionista nature. They don’t look so hot under jeans, yet are very hot to wear, especially now that the DC summer is upon us. On the upside, the garters which hold them up are, as you can see, wonderfully SEXY.
Focusing on the positive facts that I have found a management solution, and my legs do not swell as long as I stick to my routine of wearing the proper garments, is what gets me through each day. I have been forced to make a lot of changes, yet through these changes have become a better person.
Also, an unimaginable wish has been fulfilled: I get to wear pretty little dresses!
These stockings you see are emblematic of how a solution may not be all that you want, it may even be problematic, but the change can open possibilities previously undreamt.
National Lymphedema Network